Bill Engleson (@billmelaterplea) flew the highest this week and takes his sixth win!
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A Laughing Man
That morning when Herb Cayer got out of his truck and looked across the small ocean channel separating his island community from the distant Mainland, a distance at once real and imagined, manageable and foreboding, and saw on the mountain tops, not a trace of winter snow where there had always been, in each of his fifty-five years prior, at least a remnant of the snowpack even as a typical summer heat melted most of it away, he felt his heart silently wither.
He continued to gaze as if the length of his longing look would somehow alter the view. He shook his head a few times and then, ever a self-conscious man, glanced at the waiting early morning ferry traffic lineup of which he was a part to see if anyone had taken notice. As he did, a stranger approached.
“Something wrong?” the stranger asked. “You look…troubled.”
He took the questioner in, a tourist most likely, someone from away, unuse to how this part of the world was, or had been, and how it now was changing year upon year with no hope of salvation.
“Visitor?” he asked the stranger, opting to use a less categorical term than “tourist” which the locals frequently used derogatorily.
“Just spent two beautiful weeks on this island…away from the city…such a joy…back to the grind, now. So, you’re okay?”
How to answer? Herb gave it more thought than he might have just a few years ago. What was “okay” now? The world was dying. The mountains, his Island, were evaporating. The sea was becoming a backyard hot tub. Any fool could tell.
“I’m okay,” he finally said. “Just stretching. Have a good trip back.”
“Thanks,” the stranger said. “Hope to be back next year.”
“Hope,” muttered Herb. “Hope!”